title: don't shoot the messenger
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haru/Rin, Kou
rating: G
warnings: rin freaking out, tickling
summary: Kou is the bearer of tidings.
notes: for the Happy Household Club.

Kou closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened her eyes, squared her shoulders, and knocked on the door.

Haru opened the door, and she was pleased that he seemed to be happy to see her. Or maybe she was just being hopeful, but she'd known Haru long enough to tell, most likely. "Kou. Were we expecting you?"

She shook her head quickly as he stepped back to let her in. "No, sorry. I should have called."

"No, it's fine," he assured her.

"How was your mother's wedding?" she asked as she shucked off her shoes.

"Quiet," he sighed, visibly relieved.

"You didn't have to make a speech?" she smirked.

"They didn't really have a full thing like that, just dinner with family, but I still made a speech," he told her seriously.

"Aw, I've missed two speeches from you, then!" she teased.

"Get married, I'll make another," he shrugged dismissively.

"SHE'S NOT GETTING MARRIED!" Rin called out from the living room.

Laughing, Kou went in to find her brother. "I could get married!" she objected.

"Not without my permission," Rin growled. He was packing up a box. From the looks of it, they were packing up everything. Stacks of boxes lined their walls. The couch was replaced with boxes. The tv was propped up on a box.

"Lots of boxes," she mused, looking around. "It must be getting close, huh?" she grinned at Haru and Rin.

Rin blew his bangs away. "Not that soon. There's still no kitchen floor."

"The tanks are finished. So is the pool," Haru reminded him.

"Yeah, we can't live in a pool, Haru!" Rin shot back. "All those new appliances we just spent a fortune on are sitting in the Tachibana's shed! If you hadn't been pestering them about the damn pool and the damn tanks, we might have been able to have them installed already!"

"The Tachibana's don't mind," Haru said diffidently.

"Of course they don't mind, Tachibanas are made out of cotton candy and smiles, except that girl," Rin grumbled, sealing up his box.

Kou really wished that Rin wasn't in a mood. "Moving is always a hassle. Much more so when you're actually building."

"There are some advantages," Makoto appeared at the bedroom door. He was wearing one of Rin's tanks, which was significantly tighter on Makoto than on Rin. "Look what I just found?" he held up his right hand, which had on it...

"You still have that thing?" Kou asked Rin, aghast.

"Sharky!" Rin bounced up to his feet.

"Sharky?" Kou sighed.

Makoto made a biting motion with Rin's old shark hand puppet. "We lost this... almost right after we moved in, right? But he was in the dresser, behind the drawer." He made Sharky reach out to bite at Rin's nose.

"Aw, he looks ok, too!" Rin took the puppet and quickly put it on. Sharky instantly went to nosh on Makoto's shoulder.

Haru tugged on Rin's ponytail. "Hey, play nice, or Sharky doesn't get to move with us."

"Sharky is moving with us!" Rin declared, having Sharky move to attack Haru, but Haru swerved away.

"I'm glad you're all here," Kou said under her breath. "Rin, there's something I need to talk to you about. Can we... sit down, or...?" she looked out.

"Is something wrong?" Makoto asked, concerned.

"Are you pregnant? You're not getting married. Do you need me to beat up Ai?" Rin moved away from his lovers to face Kou.

"Please stop offering to beat up my boyfriend. I can beat up my own boyfriend, thank you very much, but I'm opposed to violence. No, there's nothing... wrong, per se. I just need to talk to you."

Rin motioned that they could sit on some boxes where the couch used to be. Kou sat down and smoothed her skirt down. She glared at Rin, then.

"Stop looking so nervous, you're making this worse!" Rin's face quickly went blank, but his eyes still showed his concern. "It's just... mom called me this morning with... news. And she wanted me to tell you the news because she was... a bit nervous about calling you." She smiled apologetically.

Rin furrowed his brow. "What's going on? Is she divorcing that guy? That's no big deal, we can support her."

"She's not divorcing Tadao-san, Rin," Kou sighed.

"She could divorce him, she could even move in with us," Rin offered.

"Hey," Haru said quietly.

"She's not getting divorced!" Kou said more firmly. "It's... it's actually the opposite, really."

Rin looked confused. "What's the opposite of divorce? They're already married, so..."

Kou took a deep breath. "Mom and Tadao-san are... going to have a baby," she told him, trying to maintain her cheer.

Rin stared at her blankly. "They're adopting a baby?"

"No, they're having a baby," Kou corrected. "Mom... is pregnant."

"Mom can't be pregnant," Rin stated. "She's too old."

"Rin, don't say that!" Kou chastised. "She was only seventeen when she got pregnant with you," she punched her brother's shoulder as hard as she could. If he said that to their mom...!

"That's great," Haru actually smiled at them. "You're going to have a little sibling."

"I know, me, a big sis," she smiled weakly at Haru.

"It's not great! Mom's too old! Isn't that risky?" Rin looked from Kou to Haru to Makoto.

"Well, there are more risks for birth defects," Makoto agreed reluctantly.

"See? You can't seriously be telling me she plans to have this baby?" Rin asked.

"That's your little brother or sister!" Kou punched him again. "And, yes, mom has already decided! Stop saying she's old, she's only forty-four!"

"She'll be forty-five soon," Rin countered.

"Yes, she'll be forty-five when she has the baby, but women who are much older than her have had babies!" Kou countered.

"This is crazy!" Rin jumped to his feet. "You're not actually happy about this, are you?!"

"Rin, you're getting a little sibling. It's good," Haru said in a calming voice.

"I have a little sibling!" Rin grabbed Kou's head and showed her face to Haru. "See? She's the cutest little sister ever! I don't need another sibling! And this is nuts, is this that guy's fault? How do you just accidentally get pregnant at their age? You're telling me mom wasn't using birth control or something?"

Kou freed her face from her brother's hands, and rubbed her cheeks. "Oddly, when mom called me this morning to tell me I was going to be a big sister, it didn't occur to me to grill her about her choices in birth control. Maybe she just figured it wasn't an issue or something, I don't know!"

"Rin, you need to think about something," Makoto said quietly.

"No!" Rin spun on his heel and pointed at Makoto. "No, I'm not going to be lectured here! This is madness! Having a kid at their age, when they should be getting ready to retire? I am legitimately upset, and I legitimately have reason to be!"

"Yes, I know, but..." Makoto started.

"If your mom suddenly told you she was pregnant," Rin pointed at Makoto, and then Haru, and then back to Makoto, "you'd be freaking out, too!"

"Yes," Makoto agreed. "If my mom told me she was pregnant, I'd find it very... unsettling. My parents are older than your mom, of course, and I'm pretty sure my dad had a vasectomy after the twins were born, but that's not the point."

"This is bizarre! I'm practically thirty and I'm going to be a big brother again! No! Just... no!" Rin scowled and vibrated with consternation.

"I know, but that's not the point," Makoto said more firmly.

"Oh, really?" Rin asked sarcastically. "Well, since you're the freaking amazing Miracle of the Universe, Mr. Perfect Makoto, why don't you tell me what the point is?"

Makoto furrowed his brow and looked annoyed. "Rin. Your mom has had this... thing happen, and she's made this huge decision, and I'm sure it's very scary for her, for all the reasons you mentioned..."

"Exactly! Why does she have to go through all this? I knew marrying that guy was a mistake! She should have listened to me!" Rin growled.

Kou opened her mouth to say something since she wasn't close enough to punch him, but Haru punched him lightly on the arm, and then Makoto spoke up.

"The point is... all this happened to your mom... and she was too nervous about how you'd react to call you and tell you herself," Makoto said with quiet firmness.

"Oh..." Rin deflated. "Oh... Oh, shit..." Rin scrambled around, finding his cell phone on a box near the bedroom door. He went into the bedroom to call his mom.

Kou sighed with relief, her shoulders sagging. She smiled wanly at Haru and Makoto. "Thanks."

"It's really a great thing," Haru said gently, sitting down next to Kou on the box.

"I can understand how he feels... I wasn't sure how to respond, either," she shrugged. "But... I mean..."

"It's a lot to take in," Makoto said soothingly. He picked up Sharky and sat down opposite to them.

"I just kept thinking all day... my child will be just about the same age as my sibling. My child's aunt or uncle could theoretically be in school with them," she shook her head.

Makoto and Haru looked at each other, alarmed. "Wait, you're not pregnant, right?" Makoto asked. "Because he'll come around on this, but..."

"No, mom, seriously, anything... anything you want, makes me happy. And you know you've got Kou and me and even Makoto and Haru, we'll help out however we can," Rin walked from the bedroom to the kitchen.

"I'm not pregnant," Kou smiled at the boys. "And I'm not engaged," she assured them. "...Yet. But, Ai is planning on buying a car," she flushed.

Makoto and Haru looked at her blankly. "That's..." Makoto started.

"You know he works out in the middle of nowhere," she explained. "He rents a guest house out in the country, and bikes to work. Getting time to see each other has been the biggest challenge, so... he's getting a car. And maybe... we're sort of... talking about moving in together for the next school year." She tried to keep her smile under control. Nothing was certain yet. "He just needs to get his license," she added quickly.

"That's a good first step," Makoto's eyes were twinkling. "But, that's all really good. Sounds like... it's all really good."

"It is," she nodded happily.

"Get married and have babies," Haru told her. "Babies are nice."

"Haru, she's not going to get married just to have babies," Makoto smiled affectionately at Haru.

"Why else do people get married?" Haru asked him.

"Well..." Makoto considered the question.

"Anyway, it's nothing that serious, I didn't mean... but even if I have a child two or three years from now, the child's aunt or uncle will still be just two or three years older... that's weird, isn't it?" she asked them quietly.

"I think it sounds fun," Haru replied equally quietly. "I bet your sister or brother will have a lot of fun with that. Besides, your mom still lives in Okayama, right?"

"True, they won't actually be in school together..." she drifted off, considering.

"It's a lot to take in," Makoto agreed.

"Yeah," Kou nodded.

"But it's a good thing," Haru stubbornly insisted. "Maybe it'll be a cute little boy like Rin."

Kou beamed. "That's really sweet, Haru-senpai."

"Hopefully, though, he'll have a better adolescence. Rin was kind of an ass for a while," Haru added.

"I love you, mom. I'll always support you. And yeah, you both have to come out to see the house, you know, while it's still easy for you to travel. There's going to be a guest room, so. ...Yeah. ...Love you." Rin hung up, and then he looked at his sister and his lovers, and he sighed, his head tipping down. "Let's order a pizza?" he pled.

"Sounds good," Makoto agreed.

"Ooh, splurging on the budget?" Kou teased them.

"Why don't you treat us?" Rin challenged her. "It's your company that's delayed on us twice. Look how we're living!" he spread his arms out, showing off the room full of boxes.

"Hey, I talked my boss into giving you a family deal, you'd be paying a lot more if it weren't for me," Kou stuck her nose up haughtily.

"I'll order," Makoto grinned. "And yes, I'll get one with half mackerel," he sighed.

Haru beamed.

"This is crazy," Rin shook his head.

Kou laughed, and that got her brother to come over to give her a noogie, so she grabbed his waist and tried to tickle him.

"No, it's here you gotta tickle," Haru showed her.

"Hey!" Rin jumped back. "Haru! You're supposed to be on my side! That's private information!" Rin pouted.

"I'm just being helpful to your cute little sister," Haru replied diffidently.

"Yeah, I'd like to place an order," Makoto said, trying not to laugh. He drifted over toward the kitchen to make the call away from the noise of Haru and Rin.

Kou tucked her hands under her legs, grinning. "We have to do this when you move into the house. You're having a house warming party? A house warming pool party?" she nudged her brother with her foot.

"Why do we have to have a bunch of weirdos in our new pool? No, no one gets to enjoy our pool but us!" Rin declared.

"Hey!" Kou pouted, and Haru leaned over and tickled Rin there.

"Everybody is against me!" Rin wailed.

"Not everyone," Makoto purred, caressing the back of Rin's neck, under his ponytail. Makoto winked at Rin. "Anyway, sometimes you like to have everyone against you."

"Don't make jokes like that in front of my sister!" Rin sputtered and pouted.

"Your sister is fine with it," Kou laughed.

"Nooo," Rin covered his face in his hands.

"See?" Haru said confidently. "Family is good."

Rin looked at Haru between his fingers. "Dork," he kicked Haru half-heartedly and went back to covering his face.

Kou smirked, and winked at Makoto.

It wasn't half-bad, though.